A Postcard From: Ninenzaka

Sakura starting to bloom on Ninenzaka
Sakura starting to bloom on Ninenzaka

If someone pinned me down and told me I had to pick my favorite place in Japan right now, I wouldn’t even need the time to blink my eyes before I replied,  “Ninenzaka (Two-Year Hill)!”

Jin-rikusha heading to the top of the hill
Jinrikisha being pulled by a VERY fit young man to the top of the hill

Located in the Higashiyama ward on the east side of Kyoto, the gently sloping street (and its nearby mate, Sannenzaka (“Three-Year Hill”) offer a view of what Kyoto must have looked like in the past. Both lanes are lined with authentically restored shops, many offering traditional Japanese goods or foods (and samples!), as well as teahouses, restaurants and homes. Unlike the rest of Kyoto (and Japan) there are no overhead electric lines to clog the sight lines making it one of the most beautiful and charming areas in the city. No motor vehicles are allowed on Ninenzaka either; if you don’t want to or can’t walk the only wheeled transportation allowed are jinrikisha (rickshaw).

Ninenzaka skyline
Second story Ninenzaka: Old style with a touch of today.
Lucky gourds (hyoutan) for sale
Lucky gourds (hyoutan) for sale
Old warehouse
Traditional warehouse (kura)
Traditional crafts (mingei) including clay bells representing the animals of the zodiac
Clay bells representing the animals of the zodiac and a set of Kiyomizu pottery chopstick rests (hashioki) with scenes of Mt. Fuji.
Ninenzaka makes a turn to the left and this is what appears!
Part-way down the hill Ninenzaka makes a turn to the left and . . . wow! Up until then, the Yasaka-no-to pagoda is hidden by the rooflines along the way.
Sake for sale in handprinted bottles.
Sake for sale in handpainted bottles.

And, one more thing . . .

Ninenzaka (or Sannenzaka) is a great place to stop and enjoy a Kyoto specialty: a matcha (green tea) parfait. YUM!
Ninenzaka (or Sannenzaka) is also a great place to enjoy a Kyoto specialty: a matcha (green tea) parfait. YUM!

2 thoughts on “A Postcard From: Ninenzaka

  1. Is this place primarily for the Japanese or is it a tourist destination? Love the pictures


    1. Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka both lead up to Kiyomizu Shrine, which is a must see site if you visit Kyoto. So, the streets are not exactly a “tourist destinations” but are visited by people from all over the world. I personally like to go up to Kiyomizu on Sannenzaka, and then stroll back down into town on Ninenzaka. There’s so much to see along both streets, and I love all the samples, especially the Kyoto-style mocha which comes in many flavors (strawberry, green tea, black sesame, cinnamon, etc.) – I always end up buying a box.

      Young Japanese women visiting Kiyomizu and walking on the two lanes (and other famous areas of Kyoto) often rent kimonos to wear, for a more “Japanese” experience. It was very charming.


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